Experience, education, and close attention to detail when working with clients are what set Route Fitness apart from other fitness businesses. Owner Eric Randall had many years of experience in the fitness industry before he opened Route Fitness. That expertise shows in the many five-star reviews at Yelp, ranging from a 69-year-old MS patient to a formerly overweight client who is now enjoying his exercise program and eating healthy. Here, Randall shares more about his business and membership in the GGBA.
GGBA: Please tell us more about Route Fitness.
Eric Randall: Route Fitness is a health and wellness company that helps its clients who are in need of strength gain, endurance development, weight management, sport improvement, and injury/disease prevention. We provide personal 1-on-1 fitness instruction to people of all levels of fitness. The facility, which is conveniently located in the SoMa district, provides a clean, safe space, without judgement or distractions, so clients can focus on their performance as they improve session to session. We are passionate about the work we do. It truly is our goal to help each client reach their maximum potential. We make the path to good health a route that our clients want to take.
GGBA: Why did you decide to create your business?
Eric Randall: In 2009, I smoked almost two packs of cigarettes a day. I had severe shoulder, knee, and back pain. I was overweight, depressed, with unhealthy cholesterol and blood pressure. I was addicted to sugar and drank coffee every day. My doctor wanted to put me on 5 different daily medications. I didn’t want to be on drugs daily so I started to eat healthier and exercise. I was in the gym exercising and I noticed a few trainers. They seemed distracted, out of shape, and unfriendly. I felt bad for their clients. I know I needed a career change but I didn’t know what I was going to do. By those trainers’ performances, I was convinced that we needed better trainers. I went to the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) to become a certified personal trainer. In the process of becoming a trainer, I stopped smoking, all my pain was gone, I wasn’t as depressed, and my blood pressure and cholesterol improved. I worked in a commercial gym since 2010. Most commercial gyms push supplements. I became a skilled medical fitness professional to help people get stronger, manage their weight, and avoid injury, not push supplements. I didn’t like the impersonal sales-like environment. It inspired me to create my own business, which includes a more authentic relationship with each client.
GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who helped to influence your business?
Eric Randall: My father inspired me by how he started his own business. It was a lot of hard work and at times we struggled harder than most. However, it provided me with the confidence to start my own business later on in life. I would have to thank my father for instilling his entrepreneurship genes in me. The instructor at NPTI, Chris Hitchko, taught me how to design a gym and later, because he had a kinesiology degree, I was inspired to obtain the same science degree with honors. Dr. Darryl Jackson was my supervisor and hired me at my first personal training job over 11 years ago. Some of the things he taught me, I still use today. My clients also helped to influence my business. They gave me an extra push I needed to open my own facility. I was frightened to leave a commercial gym because leasing my own spot in San Francisco is pretty pricy. However, even through the recent COVID-19 pandemic, my clients have stayed with me. When they reach a new goal, it inspires me to work harder as well.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?
Eric Randall: As a gay man of color, I need to be a part of a supportive organization. I became a member in 2019 after a client of mine suggested I start reading the San Francisco Business Times. I saw this organization in the pride issue.
GGBA: How has being a member of GGBA helped your business so far?
Eric Randall: Other members are very approachable with any questions. Having that moral support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is priceless.
GGBA: Do you go to the GGBA monthly Make Contact networking events, now virtual? Have they benefited you and your business, and would you recommend them to others?
Eric Randall: I work mostly when other 9 am–5 pm, M–F folks do not. So that means some of my clients need to see me after 5 pm and on weekends, which is when the Make Contact networking events take place. However, I have been able to attend some of them. Having that moral support during the COVID-19 pandemic helped to restore my morale and allowed me to keep fighting to save my business from closing.
GGBA: What other advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Eric Randall: Share your vision with potential customers. Create a business plan that sets you apart from other competitors. Be willing to work long hours and become adaptable to change. Place fear on the back burner and let your passion lead the way. Stay humble and make sure to commit a day out of the week for rejuvenation to avoid burnout.
For more information about Route Fitness: http://www.routefitness.com/about.html